Sky where roof used to be
where everything you’ve lost is found
air full of past
burn destructed and then reborn
belonging in harm’s way
for memories held that don’t
wisp away like smoke
embers fall from grace
ledges of life
out of synchronicity
papery images of past
I drive by
burned roof open to moving sky
This poem was inspired by actual events (I guess all poems are, in one way or another).
One morning, driving to school, we noticed that a house on a street near the school had partially burned. My youngest daughter remained fascinated by the sight of it for weeks, as did I. We wondered what the story was: who lived there, were they OK, and what caused the fire?
Then the story appeared in our local paper. A woman had lived in the house with her cat, she had Alzheimer’s. Her son lived next door. Early one morning she was sitting out on her front porch when a neighbor (not her son) noticed the fire and helped get her off the porch and save her cat. She may have left the burner on, heating water for tea, she can’t remember. No one was hurt in the fire and everyone is grateful. It was her dream house, it will be rebuilt.
A few days later, driving by the remains of the house I was struck by the phrase, “sky where roof used to be” as through the jagged hole in the damaged roof you could see the juxtaposed blue sky and the clouds moving through it. I was inspired to construct a poem based on that phrase and the story of the woman, and wanted to have a photo of the damaged roof with the sky. I kept meaning to stop and take the photo. One evening, driving home from back to school night, I remembered again that I needed to take that photo. I kept driving as I felt the pull to get home as I’d been gone for several hours. Then something inside compelled me to turn back and actually get the photo taken.
The next morning I drove by the house again and the roof remains had been demolished to make way for the rebuild.
I finished this poem a few days later.
Fifteen years ago today, my life’s path was forever altered when our first daughter was born. She came into the world in an unexpected manner -breech, via a C-section- and has been doing unexpected things ever since!
I can remember exactly where I was in my life then. My husband and I were six months into the ownership of our first home in the suburbs of Boston. I was in my late 20’s, on the fast track in my career, yet still tentative and unsure of my abilities in so many areas of life. Somehow, having a baby then seemed like a good idea.
And she arrived. I remember the first nights home with her. Due to my C-section, we were sleeping in our extra bedroom that was on the ground level of our house, so that I could avoid the stairs. I remember her waking up every few hours to breastfeed and rocking in my glider, feeling totally inept and unable to protect her from the dark, scary forces that I was sure were lurking in the black darkness outside the bedroom window.
We had the summer to settle in and the world of being a parent started to feel a little less scary. I joined a new moms group to remind myself that I wasn’t crazy and not be alone in my struggles. I took long stroller walks with my new baby. At times I would walk through a small cemetery that was near our neighborhood. I remember one day, near the end of my maternity leave, noticing a headstone that I hadn’t read before. Based on the dates of birth and death, it was for a baby that had died several months before its first birthday. I stood there, frozen still, in my denim shorts overalls, red t-shirt and white canvas sneakers. I couldn’t even begin to imagine the pain and grief that that family must have experienced. I looked down at my own several month old baby and cried, trying to imagine how I would cope if I ever lost her. I made a silent promise to myself that day to not forget. To not forget this family and baby that I had not known, by reminding myself to hold and cherish every day that I had with my own baby.
And now a lifetime (hers so far) has passed. In some ways it feels like so much has filled those years, and in some ways they’ve flown by inexplicably fast. Looking forward, we’ve got a driver’s permit and a sophomore year of high school in our very near future. But for now, I will say a prayer of remembrance and gratitude for the blessing that all my children are still here on this earth with me.
are not yet ours
in our home
new and lovely, smelling of pleasant stores
my sense of ownership
and borrowed space.
Too beautiful to be not functional
but the tempered balanced arrangement
scares my use until later
maybe I will light that candle.
For now I wrap myself in a throw
and then will attempt to arrange it
back like it was
rumpled yet beautiful,
actionless, yet foretelling diagonal movement.
Patterns and blues intermix
to break my matching rules,
yet it works better than matching
for matching creates precise limits
and I want to embrace it all instead
yet have a unifying sense
Just enough, not too many
singular pieces to be traded in and out in the future
perhaps repurposed in another room
new with old, never completely starting over
bringing in pieces from the past.
In a room of living that I once said was dead, redundant space.
This morning I was cherishing being alone in our house. I actually like to be alone. I like the quiet, the stillness, the time to think and just be. With three school age children, a husband, a part-time job and the all the other normal aspects of a busy life, my life does not always offer times for me to be alone. So I was enjoying having time to myself and not having anyone there to make any demands of me or my time. But I started thinking about what if I were truly alone. What if I didn’t have the backdrop that three children would come home to me this afternoon, that my husband would return from his business trip this evening, that I could call a friend if I had been in need of company? Under a different set of circumstances, the exact same situation-the one the I was cherishing- could actually have been a situation of sadness and emptiness for me. So, in some sense, how we feel about an event or a situation is relative.
How many other events in our life can this sentiment pertain to? Think of how our mindset, our expectations and our circumstances can invoke different feelings for the exact same event. Parenting provides some obvious examples of this for me. When we are not rushed to be somewhere and not feeling pulled to be doing something else, we too can delight in the unplanned moments of wonder and discovery that occur with our children on a regular basis. But if we’re running late or have something else that we feel we really need to be doing, those stalled moments, where the task at hand falls by the wayside, can be frustrating and troublesome.
For me, sometimes I need to realize that things don’t always present themselves in my life at the most opportune or convenient time; to be open to their occurrence and be able to find the connection, or the joy or the lesson for me in that moment is my work. And in those rare moments where a desired situation does arise at an opportune time, I will continue to celebrate!